I’ve got to hold my hand up and say that I am a complete geek when it comes to cookery books. Current estimates would place the number between 200 – 300, and that total can change on a weekly basis.
That said, like anything else in life, there are good cookbooks, great cookbooks and some completely crap cookbooks out there and so I’m going to be using my nerd-like obsession to provide a basic review of some of the best options available today.
So, you can see what the title and author of the first review is.
Cook Simple by Diana Henry – published by Mitchell Beazley in 2007 ISBN978-1-84533-075-0
The picture is my copy of the book. It is lovingly well-thumbed and has been one of the standout cookbooks that I have come across in the last 15 years.
The reason for this is in the title. Everything in this book is easy to make. But the key to it’s brilliance is that ‘simple’ doesn’t in any way mean basic or boring. A lot of the dishes in this book would happily grace a swanky dinner party, but they are equally spot on for family meals or simple suppers for one (depending on how good or bad your social life is).
Some of the recipes will come to life with just your store cupboard basics, like “Spaghetti with Parsley, Chilli and Garlic”. Others would require an extra couple of things buying in to complete them (but worth it)… “Vine Growers’ Sausage”. And yet others would require a little planning and forethought to get them onto the table… “Pomegranate and Honey Glazed Chops with Radish & Cucumber Tzatziki”.
The ingredient lists are easy to follow and the step by step instructions are clear, concise and suitable for both novice and experienced cooks.
One of the beauties of this book is there are frequently offered alternatives to the main recipe. This could suit you because of what you have to hand in the kitchen, or because there is something in the primary recipe that you’re not that keen on. Either way, it expands the usefulness of this book as well as your repertoire. Following on from a couple of fabulous recipes using pork chops, there are an additional 13 separate options for sauces and flavour combinations.
There are chapters that cover meat and fish, seasonal veg, seasonal fruits as well as desserts. All written in an easygoing and informative style. This cookbook really does tick all the boxes…
and I’ve added the last picture to show all the note tags that are stuck in this book. I have many beautiful coffee-table cook books that I love to look at, but have no tags in them at all, because the food is just too complex or wierd to even bother with. This one gets used almost weekly and is definitely in my all time top ten cookbook list!
A personal recommendation… I could eat “Spanish Sweet Potato with Chorizo, Peppers and Fried Egg” till it came out of my ears. Everything about that particular recipe ticks a box with me, and the best way I can think to describe it is to say that it’s like a Mediterranean version of a proper big fry-up… so you can almost convince yourself that it’s even a bit healthy (all that olive oil… gotta be better for you than lard??!!)
If you like cookbooks, this one should be a no-brainer for you!
Enjoy – Frank